Daytime sleepiness in older adults: Do naps help or hurt?

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Daytime sleepiness in older adults: Do naps help or hurt?

Question

Is it OK for older adults to take regular naps? I get so sleepy in the afternoons.

Eleanor
Canada

Answer

It depends. Do you wake up from your naps feeling refreshed and re-energized? If the answer is yes, then it's OK to keep taking them. If your answer is no and you wake up feeling grumpy and grouchy instead, then you may want to reconsider napping.

If you do take regular naps, keep them short — between 30 and 60 minutes. Longer naps are more likely to degrade the quality of your nighttime sleep. This is important because older adults typically have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep than do younger adults.

It's normal to feel sleepy in the afternoon. Almost everyone's body clock is naturally programmed for sleepiness at that time. However, if you have excessive daytime sleepiness, consult your doctor. This may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as sleep apnea or depression, or a side effect of a medication.

Last Updated: 06/02/2005
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